The 785-acre natural area on the northwest coroner of Loveland opened May 1, 2020. Fort Collins Coloradoan
Whether you need a little outdoor time now to beat your coronavirus-related stress or wish to play it safer when the pandemic passes, I have just the place for you.
The city of Loveland’s Prairie Ridge Natural Area opened Friday, and Monday I got out to visit it.
What you need to know
Where: 6400 N. Wilson Ave. in northwest Loveland. That’s just north of the intersection of 57th Street and Wilson Avenue (Taft Hill Road in Fort Collins) or 1.5 miles south of the Coyote Ridge Natural Area.
Open: Sunrise to sunset daily
What’s there: 3.3 miles of soft-surface trails, 36 parking spaces (none for horse trailers but horse trailer parking can be found at Coyote Ridge Natural Area), vault toilets
What’s allowed: Hiking, mountain biking, trail running, horseback riding and wildlife watching from trails
What’s not allowed: Dogs and e-bikes
Best time to go: Anytime when temperatures aren’t too hot. Mornings and evenings are generally when you see the most wildlife. For photographers, sunrise is best.
Pros: It serves as an easy connection to Coyote Ridge Natural Area and Rimrock Open Space and Blue Sky Trail, which combined have 35 miles of trails. It’s an option when the Coyote Ridge parking lot fills, which is often. Solid kid- and family-friendly trails with little elevation gain. And once you get past the unexciting 1.2-mile Prairie Ridge Trail from the parking lot to the trail T, the 1.4-mile Ridge to Ridge Trail hugs the first hogback and offers plenty of wildlife and wildflower viewing.
Cons: The 1.2-mile trail leading from the trailhead to the first hogback is similar to the initial trail at Coyote Ridge Natural Area in that it’s not overly exciting and can get very hot when the temperature warms.
Good to know: In May 2000, the 785-acre Prairie Ridge Natural Area was acquired as part of the 3,500-acre community separator between Loveland and Fort Collins and funded by Loveland, Fort Collins, Larimer County and Great Outdoors Colorado.
The eastern two-thirds of the property is farmed for dryland wheat. The western one-third includes hogbacks, shale ridges, shortgrass prairie and foothills shrubland.
The community separator also includes Loveland’s Sunset Vista Natural Area, Larimer County’s Long View Farm and Fort Collins’ Coyote Ridge Natural Area.
Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
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